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I said this at the beginning of our challenge, but it bears repeating — thank you for your YES, for stepping out in faith and adding your voice to our prayer, in recognizing that, even in times of great loss and tragedy, God can gather people from disparate walks of life and turn it into something unexpected — a time of great hope. There were 70 of us that answered this call to pray, and I believe that it is only a glimpse of what God can do through those of us who continue to recognize the Spirit moving in the midst of our everyday, ordinary lives.
Know that the same Spirit that gathered us in prayer, the same One that has tugged on your heart these last 9 days, is the same Spirit that continues to speak to each of us long after this prayer challenge has ended. May we recognize that we are many parts of one body (see 1 Cor 12:12-27). We cannot all be an ear, nor can we all be an eye, so let us stop trying to make everyone act or think like us.
We all have parts to play in bringing about God’s reign on earth — some are called to lead others in prayer, some are called to engage in the political process, some are called to teach and be safe havens for students, still others are called to use their gifts in ways that we can’t even imagine. Let us stop being critical of each other’s approach to answering God’s call to action, and instead recall that, as children of the light, we are to encourage one another and build each other up (see 1 Thess 5:4-11).
As diverse and different as we all are, may we always remember that as long as we remain attentive and obedient to the voice of God in our lives, our hearts will beat as one. Let us recognize the tactics of the Enemy, in the sowing of division and hatred, in turning ourselves against each other. Let us instead listen to the voice of Jesus and allow the seed of his prayer for us take root in our hearts: “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).
The other day, the verse from Ezekiel about dry bones jumped off the page in my morning prayer (see Ezekiel 37:1-14). It is easy for us to look at the situation we are in, where fear and violence dominate the news, where death and suffering seem to reign, it is easy for us to look around and see what Ezekiel saw — a valley of dry bones.
I believe the same words that God spoke to Ezekiel are the same words that God speaks to each of us now:
Prophesy over these bones, and say to them:
Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones:
Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life.
I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put breath into you so you may come to life.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD (Ezekiel 37:4-6).
May we be attentive and recognize how God’s Spirit calls us to take action, in our own unique way. As Paul writes to the Thessalonians:
So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet (1 Thess 5:6-8 NIV).
As we go forth, let us remember that we are not alone. That when we raise our eyes and look around, we stand in a vast multitude (see Ezek 37:10). Take heart. Take courage. Trust in God.
All is not lost.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).